Your Google Business Profile is a key asset when it comes to search engine optimization. When people search on Google, the Google Business Profile is very prominent. This means your local business can generate more clicks and phone calls when you rank in the local pack, which leads to more business.
How do you go about optimizing your GBP (formerly Google My Business) page? I’ve created a checklist to follow so your listing is fully optimized versus the competition. Before diving into the first item on the checklist, it’s important to understand why Google Business Profile is so important.
Related Article: 30 Google Business Profile Statistics
Understanding Google Business Profile
According to Google, your Business Profile is a free tool that allows you to take control of the way your business appears on Google Search and Maps. With your Business Profile, you can connect with customers, post updates, list your products and services, accept online orders, and more.
What Google doesn’t mention in their definition of Business Profile is how important it is for SEO and your inbound marketing efforts. The placement is so prominent due to the following factors:
- Placement is at the very top of Google (hard to miss)
- Bright yellow reviews are eye catching
- There are only a select few (3 businesses) that appear in the local pack
- Shows how many years you’ve been in business
- Shows hours of operation
- There’s a map with pins showing your location
- Shows your address
- Shows services you provide and information on your website
Below, you can see how the Google Business Profiles are above anything organically!
Let’s Get Into the Optimization Tactics
Our marketing agency has optimized hundreds of Google Business Profiles for clients across all verticals. Below in bullets is each area to focus on from an optimization perspective. Continue reading our checklist for specific optimization details for your Google Business Profile.
- Business Name
- Proximity and Address
- Primary Service
- Secondary Service
- Hours of Operation
- Opened On Date
- Business Attributes
Related Blog: Reporting Options for your Google Business Profile
There used to be a great deal of weight that went into putting keywords into your Google Business Profile. It got to the point where businesses were keyword stuffing to improve their rank on Google. The names represented on their Google Business Profile weren’t actually reflective of their actual business name.
The business name on your GBP used to carry so much weight that businesses were branding their companies with names like, “ER Near Me.”
If you already have a Google Business Profile, don’t try and keyword stuff within your title. There’s much less weight that goes into this ranking factor. If you’re creating your brand from scratch, it could be beneficial to include a city name or keyword into your business. It’s not needed nearly as much as it used to though. My recommendation would be to choose a brand name that’s unique and will make you stand out. Don’t base it off of Google.
Your primary category tells Google more about your main service offering. It’s one of the most crucial elements of your Google Business Profile from an optimization perspective. Joy Hawkins, a local SEO legend, echoed my sentiment:
“The Google Business Profile category has been one of the top ranking factors for as long as I can remember.”
There is a primary and secondary category. You can only select one primary category. HERE is a list of all the primary categories you can select.
For secondary categories, you have multiple options. The primary category holds the most weight from a ranking perspective. It’s very easy to select your Google Business Profile. Below is an example of where you would select your primary category.
Selecting your primary category can be tricky. I wrote an entire article on the critical thinking involved in selecting the proper primary category. Below is the rationale used to select the primary category for our Google Business Profile.
Our agency specializes in marketing and web design. Each of these are separate Google Business Profile categories. How did I decide to list marketing agencies as the primary category? I analyzed our revenue and profitability for each category. Since our marketing is more profitable due to a recurring revenue stream, I selected “Marketing Agency” as our primary category. This type of critical thinking is needed when selecting your primary versus secondary categories. If you need help selecting your primary category, contact our local SEO experts.
Tip: Research what your top ranking competitors are selecting for their primary category. If you are debating what to select for your primary category, don’t reinvent the wheel. Find out what’s working well for others.
Despite the primary category carrying the most weight, the secondary category is still important. If you are in a less competitive market or industry, you can still rank well for your Google Business Profile based on the secondary category.
When we work with clients, there are often missing secondary categories. Once we add them in based on their service offering, it can lead to an uptick in visibility on the local pack (especially for niche industries).
It seems fairly obvious that you need to put in the proper website URL within your Google Business Profile. You’d be surprised how many people input an http versus https version of their site. Make sure to input your site URL how it reads to an actual site visitor.
For example, our website is the following: https://www.themediacaptain.com/ – We wouldn’t want to put www.themediacaptain.com – We’d want to copy and paste it in the same manner as it appears to people on the web.
The website URL can get a little tricky if you have multiple locations. Should you link to the homepage or the location specific page? I wrote a blog post on this very topic that I recommend you read.
Related Blog: Should I link to the homepage or location specific page?
Nine out of ten consumers read reviews before making a purchase [source]. Earlier, I mentioned how the reviews on your Google Business Profile pop and make an instant impression.
Just look at the screenshot below. Which business would you click on? I’m going with the Regal Group because they have 81 reviews with a strong 4.9 rating. Argo Accounting is missing a giant opportunity by not seeking more reviews from their customers! It’s important to be proactive in constantly seeking more reviews for your Google Business Profile page.
If you have a business like a lawn care or plumbing company where you have new customers coming and going each day, I recommend a service like GatherUp ($99/month for 1-location) or BirdEye. If you are an accountant, law firm or marketing agency where you have less clients coming and going, you can create a manual template to send out, which would be free of cost. Our agency helps businesses create these sorts of processes with our reputation enhancement services.
It’s also important (and easy) to respond to your reviews on your Google Business Profile page. This is another important optimization tactic that’s often overlooked. I recorded the video below to show you how easy it is to reply to your reviews!
Listings with photos are twice as likely to appear reputable. I can’t tell you how many businesses have poor photos or haven’t updated their photos in years. We encourage our clients to update their photos at least twice per year. This includes taking new photos of your staff, the interior and exterior of your office and work being performed (to name a few ideas).
I recorded a 60-second video showing you where to upload new photos and how to properly categorize them.
The description on Google Business Profile is fairly straightforward. You should describe your business to customers. Google’s recommendations include the following:
- What you offer
- What sets you apart
- Your history
- Anything else that’s helpful for customers to know
Google doesn’t recommend the following:
- Do not include URLs or HTML code.
- Do not exceed 750 characters in the description field.
Below is a 30-second video I recorded showing you where to edit the business description:
For the primary and secondary category, you must choose options that abide with Google’s recommended list. For services, you can input whatever you’d like as a service. What’s crazy about services is Google will scan your site to find recommended services and automatically add this to your Google Business Profile. You can see below that the services outlined in orange were automatically added to our Google Business Profile. It’s important to monitor your service section and approve or disapprove services which Google is automatically adding. Services is another area that’s often overlooked by businesses. Make sure to fill in this information!
I recorded the 60-second video below to show you how to monitor your services better:
Hours of Operation
Another interesting dilemma we see is standard business hours versus listing your hours as 24/7. We have had attorney clients that tell us that they have customer service support 24/7 so they want their hours on Google Business Profile to reflect this.
Here’s the issue. Competitors can now report your Google Business Profile for inaccurate information. Google has staff that will call into an office to audit the correct business information. If Google were to call into your business, if your secretary says that your business is open 9 AM – 5 PM yet your website says 24/7, this can be deemed by Google as inaccurate information and your page can be dinged.
I recorded the 30-second video below to show you how to edit your hours of operation.
Opened On Date
You want to put the date that your business opened its operation in the “Opened On Date.” Often, there’s confusion whether you should put the date your business was established versus when you moved into your most recent location. The correct answer is you should notate when you opened your business. This is really important because this information pulls into the Google Business Profile local pack. Below, you can see how it shows that our agency has been in business for more than 10-years. If I put the date when we moved into our office (April of 2021) this information wouldn’t pull in. This is a key optimization trick that many people overlook!
You should be posting from your Google Business Profile. When people conduct a branded search for your business, the post will populate on the first page of Google.
A lot of people ask, “Will posting help improve my ranking.” To my knowledge, there’s no direct correlation between the two. It’s still a best practice to make posts so people can learn more about your business.
I recorded a 1-minute video to show you how to make posts directly from your Google Business Profile account:
Attributes provide additional detail about your business operation that will put the customer at ease prior to contacting you or visiting your location. Examples of attributes include the following listed below. It’s best to fill this out to the best of your ability. If someone were searching for a “Marketing Agency with online appointments” or a “Restaurant that’s wheelchair friendly” this could give you a significant advantage for those search queries. You can learn more about attributes directly from Google’s help resources.
- Wheelchair accessible?
- Gender neutral restrooms?
- LGBT+ Friendly?
- Health and Safety
- Masks required?
- Service Options
- Online Appointments?
Proximity and Address
The location of your business can make a significant impact on your local SEO rankings. For example, if you’re located in a suburb for a city-specific search, it can be more challenging to rank well. I wrote this blog that talks about the importance of your location for your Google Business Profile Page.
I won’t be diving too deep into this topic since you can’t impact location unless you actually move your office.
When optimizing your Google Business Profile, if you have an office that’s staffed that customers and employees can visit, you should input the address. If you don’t have a location such as a storefront or an office, you can still create a Google Business Profile and leave the address portion empty.
The beauty of optimizing your Google Business Profile is it doesn’t take much time to nurture. Yet the changes can make a significant impact.
Don’t forget that the information listed on your Google Business Profile should be consistent versus what’s listed on your website and other areas of the web.
If you follow our checklist and fully optimize your GBP, you should improve your likelihood of ranking better in the local pack. If you’re still having issues surpassing your competitors, you can reach out to our local SEO experts here at The Media Captain.